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Currency substitution in Latin America - lessons from the 1990s


  • Gomis-Porqueras, Pere
  • Serrano, Carlos
  • Somuano, Alejandro


The authors study how agents in Latin America allocate their balances between dollar-denominated and domestic currency-denominated accounts. They empirically determine the causes of currency substitution, its significance in recent banking crises, and the link between currency substitution, and volatility in macroeconomic aggregates. Their findings: The ratio of dollar deposits to broad money is strongly influenced by expectations of depreciation. They show that depositors in Latin America face some uncertainty and frictions when making their portfolio decisions. They explore the macroeconomic consequences of a dollarized economy. In particular, they find that, in the presence of currency substitution, past banking crises are good predictors of future crises. In other words, having a highly dollarized economy, increases the response of the banking system when there is a bad shock, which halts the outflow of capital. Once an economy is in crisis, however, having more dollar-denominated deposits in the banking system, increases the probability of a longer crisis in the future, because it increases exchange rate exposure in an already weak banking system. Finally, they show that the volatility of macroeconomic variables linked to the financial system, increases whenever the economy becomes more dollarized, which in turn makes the choice of monetary targets more difficult.

Suggested Citation

  • Gomis-Porqueras, Pere & Serrano, Carlos & Somuano, Alejandro, 2000. "Currency substitution in Latin America - lessons from the 1990s," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2340, The World Bank.
  • Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:2340

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Dillinger,William R. & Webb,Steven Benjamin, 1999. "Fiscal management in federal democracies : Argentina and Brazil," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2121, The World Bank.
    2. M. Dewatripont & E. Maskin, 1995. "Credit and Efficiency in Centralized and Decentralized Economies," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 62(4), pages 541-555.
    3. William Dillinger & Steven B. Webb, 1999. "Fiscal management in federal democracies: Argentina and Brazil," Económica, Departamento de Economía, Facultad de Ciencias Económicas, Universidad Nacional de La Plata, vol. 0(3), pages 423-483.
    4. Peter Fortune, 1992. "The municipal bond market, part II: problems and policies," New England Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, issue May, pages 47-64.
    5. Juan Pablo Nicolini & Josefina Posadas & Juan Sanguinetti & Pablo Sanguinetti & Mariano Tommasi, 2002. "Decentralization, Fiscal Discipline in Sub-National Governments and the Bailout Problem: The Case of Argentina," Research Department Publications 3160, Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department.
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    Cited by:

    1. William C. Gruben & Darryl McLeod, 2004. "Currency competition and inflation convergence," Center for Latin America Working Papers 0204, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.
    2. Lubo Komrek & Martin Meleck, 2004. "Money Demand in an Open Transition Economy," Eastern European Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 42(5), pages 73-73, September.
    3. Adenutsi, Deodat E., 2007. "The policy dilemma of economic openness and seigniorage-maximizing inflation in dollarised developing countries: The Ghanaian experience," MPRA Paper 37134, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    4. John Hawkins & Paul Masson, 2003. "Economic aspects of regional currency areas and the use of foreign currencies," BIS Papers chapters,in: Bank for International Settlements (ed.), Regional currency areas and the use of foreign currencies, volume 17, pages 4-42 Bank for International Settlements.


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